The very existence of this book probably already makes it obvious, but I am a fan of this campaign approach.
For starters, it’s a land grab. You’re saying ‘We’re really good at this’. You’re also saying ‘We don’t touch that’. When so many tools claims to do everything, clarifying your sphere of excellence with a well-structured and comprehensive guide helps secure your buyer’s trust.
Plus, if you’re the only business talking about solving your audience’s specific problems in any depth, you’ll be the obvious choice when it comes to problems they can’t solve independently.
To be the only business speaking about a specific challenge, you may need to niche down a bit.
Notice that this book isn’t the ‘guide to content’, the ‘B2B guide to content, or even the ‘B2B software guide to content’. It’s the ‘early-stage B2B software guide to content’. That’s because my expertise doesn’t stretch much further than this, but also because it doesn’t need to. Back-of-a-napkin research shows there are 10,000 early-stage B2B software startups out there today, and this category is growing. If everything adds up, don’t be afraid to niche down!
However, niching down does not mean creating a new ‘category’ or ‘type of product’ so you have something to call your own. The Pinocchio category you’ve crafted won’t mean anything to your buyers, so along with convincing your audience that they should buy your product, you also face the task of convincing them to learn about and accept the new vocabulary and worldview you’re using to convince people why your product exists. Isn’t marketing already hard enough?
Buyers are most motivated to solve their own problems, so the only reality they can picture is the painful one in front of them. Using language they already use to present a brighter, less stressful future will always beat presenting a problem they don’t recognize or a future they don’t care about.
But let’s assume the theme of your long content piece is well-positioned and carves out a niche you can call your own. Here are a couple of examples that worked for clients:
Nest Commerce’s Quarterly Meta Ad Benchmarking Report
Ecommerce agency Nest Commerce had data from thousands of their clients’ Meta campaigns and the internal expertise to decode these trends.
Because this information wasn’t available anywhere else, making this anonymized data public served as a helpful quarterly check-in for ecommerce marketers who wanted to find out how their performance stacked up vs the industry average, along with what to expect next quarter.
Publishing this report quarterly meant we weren’t working through a list of content ideas for reports that inevitably declined in quality or relevance. But most importantly, the content of the report itself gave a taste of my client’s depth of experience working in the ecommerce space, along with the quality of their consultancy.
Nest runs an agency, not a product, so there are bound to be many software businesses out there that are in an even better position to gather and present unique data from their platform, or via access to a broader customer dataset from third-party sources like Meta.
Lets Flo’s High Volume Content Production Handbook
If your software solves a complex, wide-reaching problem that’s shared by your audience, then that problem will always be great fodder for a guide. That’s because complex problems can rarely be solved by software alone. Most often, complex problems are process problems, communication problems, and people problems.
Lets Flo’s software offers workflows for large fashion brands like Burberry, whose teams are under pressure to quickly produce ecommerce and marketing content for their product lines. By untangling, connecting, and automating these processes, Lets Flo helps teams get content from their studio to their site far more quickly than before.
From their work with different fashion brands, the team at Flo has a broader view of content operations than any of the individual creative or content ops managers they sell to. This means they are uniquely placed to write a guide on what end-to-end best practice content production looks like.
In this example, their guide is a map that shows creative ops professionals how to manage the communication, process, and resource inefficiencies that crop up when you’re producing hundreds of unique, high-quality images each week, and how Flo’s software supports those efforts.
From a buyer’s perspective, a best-practice guide that’s built on work done with brands they aspire to helps de-risk purchasing expensive software that supports this way of working. It also gives them the confidence they need to back the software to their team and introduce it where they work.
Promoting your guide
With a guide in your back pocket, you should be feeling pretty chuffed. That guide is a Swiss Army Knife that can be used for basically all the content you produce for the foreseeable future.
You can repackage it as webinars, speaking opportunities, Youtube explainers, serialized blog posts, social posts, physical handbooks, or however else your audience likes to consume content.
That’s easier said than done. Recreating content for different formats takes time, so play to your team’s strengths and only produce content in formats and for channels you know your audience will engage with.
And don’t worry too much about being repetitive. Think of each content type as an entry point to the more comprehensive guide, or as an alternative way to consume what’s within the guide for people who won’t bother with the whole thing. Not everyone’s going to see, care about, or read everything you put out there (apart from you).
Plus, with all your knowledge out there in the world to back it up, you’ll be viewed as the go-to person for commentary on your topic, and marketing opportunities are more likely to come to you! The early work you’ve put in will be repaid with the momentum you build as you teach your audience what they don’t know yet.
Nowadays most audiences have tuned out obvious marketing-related sounds. Telling them straightforwardly what your software does is boring, but showing what their world looks like with all the missing pieces in place works a treat.
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